Can My Bowels Be Injured During A Tummy Tuck?

Q: Dr. Eppley, is it possible during a tummy tuck to injure one’s bowels? I am afraid to have a tummy tuck because I don’t want to suffer a major medical problem just because I want a flatter stomach. How close are my bowels to where a tummy tuck is done?

A: While it is common to have some constipation after a tummy tuck, there is no risk of any long-term gastrointestinal tract issues. Only skin, fat and muscle is manipulated during a tummy tuck and there is no chance of inadvertent injury to the large or small intestines. The bowels lies on the opposite side of the abdominal muscles. Repairing a hernia at the time of a tummy tuck poses some risk for those concerns but it is no greater than any other hernia repair. Since pain medication will be needed after a tummy tuck, and that has a known slowing effect on gastrointestinal mobility, women should drink plenty of fluids during their recovery and take a daily stool softener starting a week before surgery as well as continue it afterwards. In short, a tummy tuck may require some significant recovery time but it is not a dangerous surgery.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana